Wild at Heart is Dishonest, so is my Writing

My wife and I watched Wild at Heart recently on a recommendation from my past self. I remembered liking this film so many years ago, when I had first discovered the world of David Lynch. It was weird, surreal, and sardonic. A ride that pleased me but for which I had little recollection of.

On rewatch, however, this was not my experience, and I was a little embarrassed at having talked up this film to my wife. Wild at Heart is all over the place tonally. It zigzags from scene to scene, scatter-brained and without purpose. Many of the ideas in Wild at Heart are perfected in later Lynchian works, but in this package, they’re lost and half-formed.

The end of the film is supposed to tie an idea together, but it feels tacked on and cheap. This wasn’t the whimsical, Lynchian romp with Wizard of Oz themes I vaguely remembered. It was dishonest trash.

When I opened the draft of my robot novel the next day, I was taken aback at how unenthusiastic I was for my project. This wasn’t the whimsical science fiction romp with real-world themes I remembered. It read like drivel. The plot meandered. Certain scenes felt hokey and old-timey in a silent film slapstick sort of way. Sure, there were moments of brilliance, but these moments were rare.

Like Wild at Heart, my work-in-progress felt like cutting room floor tidbids I Frankensteined together. It was dishonest, and I couldn’t find myself staring back at me from the computer screen. I was a little embarrassed. This is what I had been spending so much time on?

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New Book: Little Warrior Brother by Gabe Keith

One of the secret projects I’ve been involved with over the past year has been helping a good friend and a fellow writer complete his dream project. We’ve been through multiple drafts together, with me serving in an editorial capacity, providing what insight I can in order to help bring my friend’s military memoir to life. Today, I’m overjoyed to announce that Little Warrior Brother by Gabe Keith has finally been released to the public.

I still remember the first day Gabe told me about his project and about all of the ideas and things he wanted to talk about. It seemed like so long ago, and at the time, the project felt insurmountably huge! If you told me then that just over a year later, his book would be published and ready for readers, I wouldn’t have believed it. But Gabe’s dedication, determination, and enthusiasm energized him to work tirelessly, and before I knew it, drafts were already flooding my inbox.

Little Warrior Brother is nothing short of a passion project with high-minded ideals to convey the emotion, struggle, and drive of our armed servicemen and women all across the globe. It’s a book that strips itself of politics and lays the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq bare. Beautifully written, Little Warrior Brother will make you laugh, cry, and understand something outside of the civilian perspective.

You can find Little Warrior Brother in print and eBook at Amazon. Please consider liking and following Gabe Keith and his journey in bringing to life his military memoir from his time in Iraq on Facebook.

Little Warrior Brother by Gabe KeithSynopsis: Two young men fight two wars, decades apart – one in Iraq, his uncle in Vietnam. Following the nephew’s return, they visit their parallel stories, exploring the realities of war, the passing of childhood, and the soul of a soldier on the road to moving on.


Find out more about the author and his adventures in bringing this book to light at his personal website — GabeWKeith.com.

Failure is a Good Thing

In 2009, I graduated Western Illinois University with a Bachelor’s in English and a minor in Film and Print & Broadcast Media. I was a media junkie and a media jack-of-all-trades. That summer, I knew it was only a matter of time before I wrote a novel that blew everyone away.

Fast forward to 2011, and I self-published my first book. It was supposed to be an edgy, gritty, and existential coming-of-age story about some backwoods kid who spent most of his time consuming advertising. Some people told me that they genuinely enjoyed it, and others changed the topic when I asked them about it at social gatherings.

I was 23 at the time. After it released, I sat back and waited. For what? Ultimately, nothing. With my university degree in my belt, I spent a few years in a plateau. I was carrying around a piece of paper that said I had learned something, and in hindsight, I used it as an excuse to stop learning.

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When I write, I write for me. I write for fun. I write for entertainment and peace of mind. It’s satisfying, and the act of writing helps keep me sane.

But writing for an audience of one isn’t good enough. It’s selfish, and it isn’t the motivator I need to keep at it consistently, instead of writing when I “have the time” or “just for fun.” Simply put, if I stay the course, I’ll never go anywhere with it.

This hit me today while driving to work. The theme song to that movie Ben shuffled onto my iPod—a very young Michael Jackson’s voice stirring something deep within my soul. I watched that movie only once, in fifth grade, because our teacher put it on. I don’t remember why. I just remember it was about some lonely child befriending Ben, the leader of an army of rats on the advance into town. Their friendship was one of those relationships doomed from the start, as they came from two worlds at odds with each other. Ben’s rats killed humans. Humans killed Ben’s rats. Even though forces were at work to tear them apart, Ben and the boy’s friendship endured.

The movie is probably terrible now that I’m older,  but it’s the sentiment that counts. The memory. I’m reminded of it whenever that song shuffles on. And every time, I think of my loved ones.

I’ll be married in two months to an amazing woman. Eventually, the two of us will have a family of our own. So who am I writing for?

I can’t keep writing for me.

The ability to write is a gift. It’s a craft we, as “writers,” chip away at. Some of us are more obsessive about it than others, and the more we hone the skill, the better we become. It’s our special tool, and it’s completely wasted when exclusively used for the self. The one. The individual.

I want to use it to better my family.

I want to write, so I can use my tool, my gift, to put food on the table. I want to take this gift and give my family the best possible future. The idea that this is greater than myself makes it harder for pen to leave paper. The thought of providing, of using this talent for the benefit of my loved ones, inspires something more important than leisure. It inspires duty. Necessity. Devotion.

Writers often say one can’t go into writing for the money. I agree. It’s a very risky business. The odds of profitability are stacked against the individual, and more often than not, we may be left writing things that don’t interest us even when we succeed.

But very few enjoy the tedious monotony of work, so why not spin the barrel of the gun and play Russian roulette with our gifts anyway? We can take the chance. The more devoted we are, the better our odds will be. With devotion, dedication and drive, we’re betting on the house, our house, to win.